Sock wins Auckland for second career ATP title

January 14, 2017 09:08 AM

By Jackie Finn,

Jack Sock got his 2017 off to a hot start, claiming his second-career ATP World Tour title with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Joao Sousa at the ASB Classic in Auckland. 

The 24-year-old found himself in the final for the second year in a row, seeking redemption after having to retire due to illness just 12 months earlier.

Sock and Sousa, who had come out on top against the American in their only other previous matchup on Tour, had different roads to the final this week. 

After earning a first-round bye, the fourth-seeded Sock was pushed to three sets by both Ryan Harrison and Jeremy Chardy before defeating Steve Johnson in straights to earn his spot in the final. On the other hand, Sousa didn’t drop a set all tournament, looking impressive in his semifinal win over former Grand Slam finalist Marcos Baghdatis. 

In Saturday's final, the American grabbed the momentum early, converting on his second break point in the first set and consistently putting pressure on Sousa with powerful baseline shots and heavy returns. 

"I thought I was hitting the ball well. I was doing what I wanted to do, I was executing my game." Sock said later about his shot-making. 

But Sousa did not stop fighting. After trading early breaks in the second set, he fought off 0-30 at 5-5 by rattling off two consecutive aces to hold his serve. He would go on to break Sock in the next game and force a third set. 

Sock was up to the challenge, however, and raised his game in the decider. He converted on two break points and sent five aces down the pipe to capture his first title of the new year. 

"Any time you can take a title, it feels really good," said Sock who had previously won in Houston in 2015. 

Next up for the American is the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne, where he’ll enter riding a wave of momentum. He will face Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round.